Leeds United: Four-year deal will give Murphy new lease of life – Ritchie

Luke Murphy.
Luke Murphy.
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There were times in the past two years when I went against the grain by talking up Luke Murphy’s ability.

The risk with punditry is that you’re made to look daft but I honestly believe that Murphy’s going to be a top player for the club. If I’m wrong then by all means pull me up further down the line but it’s great news to see him sign an extended contract.

This is like a fresh start for him and a real chance to make the most of his transfer. I’m sure when Leeds paid £1m for him in 2013 he felt exactly the same but with the exception of the second half of last season, it’s been quite a hard time for him.

Did the transfer fee weigh heavily on his shoulders? Only he could tell us for sure but one thing I know is that it’s been pinned to him ever since Leeds paid it.

In games where the team performed poorly, it was easy to take a shot at Murphy because at the end of the day, he cost a lot of cash. It’s almost a case of the higher your value, the less forgiveness you get.

This four-year contract he’s signed at Elland Road is arguably a bigger vote of confidence. Yes, if a club pay £1m to buy you then it’s clear that they rate you but to tie him down again in spite of the past two seasons is Leeds’ way of saying that they don’t think they made a mistake.

In my view it was never a mistake to sign Murphy. He’s got most of the attributes you look for in a midfielder. His range of passing is excellent, he’s a midfielder who looks for goals and he’s good at dictating the pace of a match.

Fair enough, he’s not lightning quick but very few players have it all.

It’s unfortunate for him that he’s undergone knee surgery because the way he finished last season gave him a massive opportunity to kick on. That’s by far the best he’s played for the club and probably the first time he’s looked really comfortable in his surroundings.

From what Uwe Rosler is saying, he’ll be back within the next six weeks so it’s not the end of the world but it was pretty clear from Rosler’s reaction to his injury that he rates Murphy highly. This could be the start of something good for him.

When you look back to how things were at Christmas – a time when I think we all reckoned Murphy was on his way out of the club – it’s amazing to see how dramatically fortunes can change.

If Murphy’s honest, he probably felt like he was finished here after a long period of treading water. He wasn’t getting a game and he didn’t look like getting one any time soon.

In those circumstances it’s very easy to write a player off. The fashion in football is to look for something new if the status quo seems to be letting you down. And I understand why. The game waits for no-one these days.

I get the feeling that six or seven months ago the vast majority of fans would have understood if Leeds had called time on him. Most probably felt that it wasn’t happening for Murphy (and in truth, at that particular time, it wasn’t).

But sometimes it pays to be patient and to actually back your own decisions.

I say this all the time about managers. Clubs like to chop and change and it’s almost unheard of for owners to stick with a coach who’s struggling but I often wonder how many sacked managers would have got it right in the end if they’d given the opportunity to ride out the tough times.

It’s the same with Luke. The easy thing to do in January was to say ‘it’s not working, thanks for your efforts, there’s the door.’

Instead, he got back in the team, he’s stuck around and I imagine that a lot of people are happy to see him tied down for longer. And on a reduced wage too. When I read that, I genuinely did a double-take. Look out for a blue moon tonight…